Multicultural teams – curse or blessing? Indeed, managing multicultural teams can be a tightrope walk: on the one hand, when not handled properly, such teams can turn into extremely irksome stumbling blocks for a company or a project. On the other hand, companies and leaders who recognise the potentials of cultural diversity and find the right cultural mixture among the team members can achieve some substantial comparative advantages. The recent success in certain fields (for instance information technology) of “cultural melting pot” countries such as the USA or Canada testifies to the positive correlation between diversity and innovativeness.
It is above all the increasing globalisation of business that requires employees from various cultures to work together:
Shaw / Barrett-Power (1998) “Even in purely domestic operations, firms are being forced to form cross- functional, inter-departmental, cross-divisional, and interorganizational alliances in order to make maximum use of scarce resources and thus increase their competitive advantage.”
In their study of 70 global teams, Govindarajan and Gupta found out that only 18% of such teams perceived their own performance as “highly successful”, while a third felt that their co-operation had been utterly unsuccessful.Obviously, the ambiguity related to multiculturalism does not prevent managers from employing it extensively, constituting more and more multicultural global teams and continually increasing their diversity. The rationale behind such enthusiasm is usually one of hope for outstanding results, be it in knowledge creation, creativity, or innovation.
Harris / Harris (1996):
“A team is a work group or unit with a common purpose through which members develop mutual relationships for the achievement of goals / tasks. Teamwork, then, implies co-operative and co-ordinated effort by
Bibliography: Brett,Jeanne/Behfar.Kristin(2006), Managing multicultural teams, Harvard business review,vol84,issue 11. GOVINDARAJAN, Vijay / Anil GUPTA (2001) ,Building an Effective Global Business Team, in: MIT Sloan Management Review, Volume 42, Issue 4. HARRIS, Philip / Kevin HARRIS (1996): Managing Effectively through Teams, in: Team Performance Management: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 3 HOFSTEDE, Geert (1980): Culture’s Consequences – International Differences in Work-Related Values, Newbury Park: Sage SHAW, James / Elain BARRETT-POWER,1998 , The Effects of Diversity on Small Work Group Processes and Performance, in Human Relations, Volume 51, Issue 10, October 1998, pp. 1307-1325 Purdue.edu